What phrase should be used in place of "Don't we need to" in a formal letter?

Example situation: Boss sent a mail indicating that some data is to be updated in chart A. The reply is like "I have updated the data in chart A. Don't we need to update it in chart B too?"

  • Possible duplicate of due to versus as a result of
    – Chenmunka
    Jan 21, 2016 at 9:31
  • @Chenmunka I don't think the linked question is related with this one.
    – user24743
    Jan 21, 2016 at 10:19

2 Answers 2


"Don't we need" may come off as you passive aggressively telling your boss to do it in the same way a spouse may say to their partner, "Don't we need to take out the trash?" as a way to tell that partner to take out the trash. If you are going to put the question, be clear about who it is would update the chart? Also, don't pose the question as a negative "don't" but a positive "do," or an even softer "should."

"I have updated the data in chart A. Should [name] update the data in chart B, too?"

Be specific about who will have the responsibility of updating the data in chart B, whether it be you, IT, the secretary, or even your boss. Although, I must warn, most bosses do not like it when subordinates try to delegate tasks upwardly to them.


It would be more natural to respond ""I have updated the data in chart A. Do they need to be updated in chart B as well?".

The way it's written at the moment assumes that the data has to be updated.

[Technically speaking, 'data' is plural; 'datum' is the singular]

  • Do they, not does they. Jan 21, 2016 at 13:03
  • @StoneyB: that's because I changed the "it" to "they" but forgot to change the "Does" to "Do". Jan 21, 2016 at 13:57
  • 1
    I'd add that if you work in a field where data is routinely used as a singular noun, using data as a plural can come across as pretentious.
    – Karen
    Jan 21, 2016 at 14:05
  • 1
    In the US, in non-academic settings data commonly is used with the singular. If you said "datum" people would consider it odd. There is no consensus whether data is plural or singular, or at least there is a difference between North American English and British English. Not sure where the Aussies fall. economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2012/07/point-information
    – ColleenV
    Jan 21, 2016 at 14:22
  • I am a doctoral candidate, and one of the first things written in my course texts is that the plural of datum is data. I did write "Technically speaking". Jan 21, 2016 at 17:55

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